Does Family Planning Policy Matter? Dynamic Evidence from China

Fei Wang, University of Southern California

This paper estimates the dynamic effect of China’s family planning policy on fertility using an individual-level panel sample from the China Health and Nutrition Survey. This paper applies a multiple-spell mixed-proportional hazard model where the unobserved individual heterogeneity is non-parametrically estimated, as suggested by Heckman and Singer (1984). Simulations from the model estimates find that the one-child policy, the harshest and ongoing family planning policy of China, reduced the probability of having exactly 2 and 3 births by 31.1% and 35.3%, and correspondingly raised probability of childlessness and having exactly 1 birth by 54.9% and 67.0%. Policy phases prior to the one-child policy have shown similar but smaller effects. However, simulations further show that, had there been no family planning policy, fertility levels would still have decreased greatly over cohorts. Family planning policy only explains about one third of the over-cohort fertility decline.

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Presented in Poster Session 7: Family Planning, Sexual Behavior, and Reproductive Health